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Looking back on Sunshine School's growth throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a year and a half of an unexpected global pandemic, we reflect on how Sunshine School has adapted to the many changes the pandemic has brought to day-to-day lives of students, families, and staff. After realizing the virus was going to affect everyone, Sunshine School made the decision to close in March 2020 with recommendations from the Department of Health.

“We didn’t know the length of time that we would be closed,” nurse Sue Spear said. “We were unsure of everything.”

During the closure, the management team met virtually to plan what reopening would look like. After a week of staff training and communicating with families, we reopened Sunshine School in July 2020. Class sizes were reduced, screening protocols were installed, and teletherapy services were offered to families to continue their child’s education and services in a safe way.

“The biggest message in our leadership team was flexibility,” Sue said. “We had to make a plan, but then be able change it if we needed to.”

With new equipment, protocols, and screenings, we have been able to keep COVID-19 cases low, with the first positive case in a student happening in December 2020. Our staff has been and always will be willing to continue wearing masks and get their vaccine to help ensure minimal cases in the building.

The biggest changes to the day-to-day of our nurses has been the time spent educating staff, screening visitors and parents, and monitoring children when they are showing symptoms. What seem like minor adjustments has been a complicated series of shifts to ensure the safety of families, staff, and children. When closures and quarantining take place, parents are most concerned about their child losing milestones and progress.

“Our goal is to have our students here,” Sue said. “Overall, parent responses have been positive. They are thrilled that we are open and providing their children the services they need.”

Navigating these challenging times has affected everyone, but we are learning and growing each day. We are grateful to our nurses, teachers, staff, and families for adapting to the new normal to continue serving our students and keeping them safe while at Sunshine School.


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